PowerDesigner weds apps, data

PowerDesigner weds apps, data

Building and deploying applications without a solid design is akin to constructing a home without a foundation. In both situations, additional costs are usually incurred later to `shore up' the product to assure its long-term stability.

Sybase's PowerDesigner 7.0 is a suite of software-modelling tools that are accessible via a common shell, letting development teams and database administrators work together to rapidly create solid application foundations. Although a purchase of PowerDesigner will require some initial training for IT staffers, it will save money in the long run by enabling rapid application design, improved software quality, and a reduction in application maintenance costs.

PowerDesigner 7.0 offers physical data modelling, conceptual data modelling, and newly added support for object modelling, as well as report-generation facilities. These well-integrated modelling tools can be purchased as a comprehensive design suite via PowerDesigner Studio, which also includes data-flow diagramming capabilities.

It is also possible to buy specific PowerDesigner tools individually.

Regardless of what your modelling requirements are, PowerDesigner compares favourably to other products on the market. PowerDesigner's data-modelling tools match up well against rival Computer Associates' ERwin, while its object-modelling facilities heat things up for Rational Software's Rose.

PowerDesigner's physical data-modelling tools will be very useful for database administrators. During physical data modelling, the database administrator defines the database schema and data-access and indexing parameters and then physically creates the database.

I tried creating new physical data models in this PowerDesigner version with success. Moreover, I was able to open physical data models from PowerDesigner 6 without incident. I was even able to import some files I had created using ERwin.

I was impressed with the flexibility that PowerDesigner imparts to database creation. For example, I was able to generate a SQL script of a physical data model and execute it within my database. Alternatively, I was able to create databases directly from the physical data model via ODBC.

PowerDesigner also supports bi-directional database synchronisation, which means that you can make modifications either to the physical data model or the database itself and keep things in sync.

I tried making changes to both the physical data model and my test database and then used the Compare/Merge function, which synchronised the changes without incident.

It is possible to use PowerDesigner's reverse-engineering capabilities to flexibly transform physical data models into conceptual data models and/or object models. Some companies will want to approach application design from the business-logic layer downward, while other organisations will prefer to take an approach that starts with the data and moves upward toward the business-logic layer.

After building a conceptual data model, PowerDesigner can generate a physical data model that can be used to target whatever database product you might be using. Or you can generate a Unified Modelling Language (UML) class-diagram object model.

I was most impressed with PowerDesigner's new object-modelling capabilities. During object modelling, a developer defines application structure using UML class diagrams as well as the business logic that will operate on the class structures.

PowerDesigner is capable of generating either Java or Sybase's own PowerBuilder code from class diagrams, and you can easily preview the code before generating it using the Code Preview feature. In the case of Java, PowerDesigner can generate standard Java classes or JavaBeans. It can also reverse-engineer Java source code, Java byte code, or Java archives into a PowerDesigner class diagram.

Companies that are struggling with software quality, given the demands of rapid deployment, will find PowerDesigner well worth investigating.

Bringing developers and database administrators close together during the design phase of a project and giving them the tools they need to build a solid application foundation will go a long way toward decreasing application costs over time.the bottom lineSybase Powerdesigner 7.0Summary: PowerDesigner 7.0 nicely combines physical and conceptual data modelling with newly added object-modelling support to form a comprehensive application-design solution for developers and database administrators.

Business Case: Those purchasing or upgrading to PowerDesigner 7.0 will need to invest in some training for staff members. Once proficient with the tools, project teams can rapidly produce solid application designs, which will save future maintenance costs.

Pros: ¥ Facilities for physical, conceptual, and object modelling ¥ Good reporting facilities ¥ Generates Java or PowerBuilder code ¥ Strong reverse-engineering capabilitiesCons: ¥ IT staff will require training ¥ Limited platform supportPrice: RRPs for the various editions are: PowerDesigner 7.0 Developer, $4600; ObjectArchitect, $7680; PhysicalArchitect, $1530; Studio, $9980; Viewer, $600; and DataArchitect, $4600.

Platforms: Windows 95/98, Windows NT.

Sybase (02) 9936 8800

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